5. 6. 7. 8.

In the Studio with Mickalene Thomas
Mar 27, 2013 5:51PM

5. Set

“This section is usually built out with my furniture and [props]—an interior installation; but none of that stuff is here because of my Brooklyn Museum show [at the ICA Boston through April 7th] and my Lehmann Maupin show. When I introduced photography to my practice I had to think of using photography as I would approach a painting. And so that’s why I think the sets evolved—because I would need a backdrop for the models, like ‘Oh, stand here behind this curtain’ and that’s how it started. But then I thought, ‘Oh that section’s a little bare, you need a plant’ and then ‘Oh, now, it’s sort of uneven, you need to sit on a chair,’ etc. So then it evolved into these spaces. I look at old photographs, either from my childhood or my family’s home, and I source other images from the ’70s, particularly from The Practical Encyclopedia of Good Decorating and Home Improvement. I look through that a lot to figure out how to arrange the room.”

“I get my wallpapers from The Second Hand Rose, which is a fantastic wallpaper store in Manhattan—wallpaper from floor to ceiling, from all different eras and periods. I found [the store] many years ago just doing a Google search. Before I used to paint the wall and then stencil it, but that got a little arduous.”

6. Textiles

“I get a lot of my fabrics from the Fashion District [in New York], or I find a lot of my fabrics at different Goodwills, Salvation Armies, [and other] second hand stores—I look for old house dresses, sheets, curtains, shirts, skirts, pants.”

“I think textiles have this quality—if you think of the African textiles and how they come from particular fractal forms of their own history—of formations of how Africans defined themselves, their tribes and where they’re from and how they navigated through their land. But these textiles have shifted, because even though they are very much rooted in African culture and history, they’re Dutch made, you know? And so this forms how we are perceiving different things, of where culture really comes from, and who sort of adapts to that and who takes it on and how they claim or reclaim it in their own way. Whose textile is it, anyway? It is the Africans or is it the Dutch? I think those things become amalgamated and that, on some level, we’re all truly connected.”

7. Canvas Storage

Wood “canvases” ready to be primed, and paintings ready to be shipped.

8. Changing Room

“Because I have a lot of different models coming in, I wanted it to feel like this is where they’re getting ready for their big show. I found a great door guy in Brooklyn. I knew I wanted something that fit my personality and so he made this makeshift sliding door. And then I had the sign made that says ‘No Boys Allowed.’ I need to hang it up.”
In the Studio with Mickalene Thomas